Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
"Our whole lives are to be calibrated by and anchored in the gospel. It is this that is of first importance (1 Cor. 15.1-3). To assume it, marginalize it, eclipse it, or ignore it IS just as bad as editing it.
How much do you emphasize the person and work of Christ? If you are a pastor, could your sermons be preached by a Muslim? a Roman Catholic? a Jew? or any other ‘moral’ monotheist? Or worse, could a Mormon preach your sermons?
If we are preaching the doing and dying of Jesus and not just a bunch of principles anchored in a moral code then you would offend them. But if you are not then be sure, you are offending God."
Read the entire article here.
John Calvin - Institutes of the Christian Religion 3.11.16
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Any idea that love and orthodoxy are antithetical to each other is foreign to the teaching of Christ. Our Lord requires both. Let us therefore reject the sort of self-righteousness in which we congratulate ourselves on being orthodox and think that this somehow compensates for a lack of love. Similarly let us not think that Christ will overlook denials of his Word simply because we are loving.”
Noel Weeks, The Sufficiency of Scripture (Edinburgh, 1988), page 237.
HT Christ Is Deeper Still
These are very serious words, but they don’t seem to find an echo in the preaching of the prosperity gospel. It is not wrong for the poor to want measures of prosperity so that they have what they need and can be generous and can devote time and energy to Christ-exalting tasks other than scraping to get by. It is not wrong to seek Christ for help in this quest. He cares about our needs (Matthew 6:33).
But we all—poor and rich—are constantly in danger of setting our affections (1 John 2:15-16) and our hope (1 Timothy 6:17) on riches rather than Christ. This “desire to be rich” is so strong and so suicidal that Paul uses the strongest language to warn us. My appeal is that prosperity preachers would do the same.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
"Of course some points of doctrine are theological minutiae, and we don't need to argue endlessly about them. Most of us don't. But justification by faith is not one of those peripheral points. Luther and the other Reformers were driven by the unshakable conviction that the doctrine of justification by faith is the primary soteriological essential, the article by which the church stands or falls. Unless we're willing to declare the Reformation a mistake (something Bishop Wright needs to do—and may yet do—in order to be consistent with his own rhetoric), we should resist these incessant pleas from so many quarters to see "church unity" through postmodern eyes. Instead, we need to keep striving for the kind of unity Scripture describes—a unity that is possible only when we are walking in the light (1 John 1:6-7)."
Read the entire article here.
“See, the good news is Jesus is not just my personal Savior. He is the Savior of the world. That means he’s not my possession that I try to monopolize. No, he possesses everything and will gladly forgive all who turn to him in faith and repentance. Apart from Christ, no one can be right with God, no Hindus, no Buddhists, no Muslims, least of all this sinful pastor. There is no other name under heaven whereby we can be saved. But in Christ, there is salvation, joy, and new life for all who believe."
Read the entire article here.
Monday, April 26, 2010
This means that their astonishment was warranted. A camel can’t go through the eye of a needle. This is not a metaphor for something requiring great effort or humble sacrifice. It can’t be done. We know this because Jesus said, Impossible! That was his word, not ours. “With man it is impossible.” The point is that the heart-change required is something man can’t do for himself. God must do it—“. . . but [it is] not [impossible] with God.”
We can’t make ourselves stop treasuring money above Christ. But God can. That is good news. And that should be part of the message that prosperity preachers herald before they entice people to become more camel-like. Why would a preacher want to preach a gospel that encourages the desire to be rich and thus confirms people in their natural unfitness for the kingdom of God?
Sunday, April 25, 2010
John Donne, Selected Sermons (Oxford, 1932), pages 136ff.
HT Ray Ortlund
N. T. Wright
Saturday, April 24, 2010
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. 4 Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! 5 You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.
6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. 7 Then I said, "Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: 8 I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."
9 I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. 10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.
11 As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! 12 For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me.
13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me! 14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether who seek to snatch away my life; let those be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt! 15 Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, "Aha, Aha!"
16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, "Great is the LORD!" 17 As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!
Friday, April 23, 2010
"Here is a lecture I delivered yesterday to some students here at Southern Seminary about the timing of the Rapture. This issue is really controversial in some churches, largely because folks on both sides of the issue can be cantankerous and impatient with one another over something that isn’t “a hill on which to die.”
In this talk, I tell our students why I believe there is a single, very public Second Coming of Jesus, after the final “shaking of all things” in tribulation. I also tell them why I love the folks who disagree with me on that (including the people who led me to Christ). And, finally, I tell them I’m happy to be wrong."
You can download or listen to the lecture here.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
"Before closing the last thread on bashing Calvinism, I noted this as one of the comments:
If it is contended that people go to Hell because God elects them to Hell, then I absolutely believe that Calvinism is antithetical to Scripture because the Bible tells that God wants all to be saved, that Jesus died for all people, and that God wills the good, and that Hell is not good.
Well, that’s an interesting perspective.
Let’s make sure we get a couple of things right if this is where the discussion is going:
 Some people in the reformed camp would contend double predestination — that God actively elects the salvation of those who are saved and actively predestines the damnation of those who are finally sent to hell. I admit I understand the logic of this and can gravitate this way, but I also am certain that this is not the classic reformed position. It is a later systematic adaptation, and I would put it up for discussion as to whether it’s actually hypercalvinism or not. It may not be, but I’m saying that I can see how it might be. The person from the comments, above, is against double predestination, and I thank him for it.
 The classic reformed position is that God elects the saved and simply doesn’t do anything for those not elected from an eternity-past standpoint, offers them the Gospel as a choice in the present, and will condemn those who do not repent and believe on the basis of their works in the final account. The elect are predestined, and those who do not come to faith are condemned for their sin."
Read the entire article here.
With this in mind, his words should sound attractive, and we should be more and more inclined to listen. We should still like to abolish anxieties quickly, but we are learning that God values strong foundations and gradual growth, and such foundations are established as we feed on him and his words. As we meditate on Scripture and make it our own, we should anticipate slow but steady change. Worriers should be experts in a handful of passages."
Edward T. Welch Running Scared pg 147
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
It would look like biblical and hopeful Presbyterianism. It wouldn't be perfect (after all, no NT church is). But it would be a step toward the reign of God in our midst, a move toward God's will being done on earth as in heaven."
Read the entire article here.
That anyone cares about such a non-story is a sign of the times. Not only does it reveal once again that actually phoning anyone is the least important function of a phone these days (Phone somebody? That's like so totally yesterday and for you know losers and stuff, as my niece would no doubt tell me); it also highlights once again the vital component of aesthetics for consumerism: how much money is spent in this world on items that do things we don't really need done but whose acquisition makes us feel cool, better about ourselves, superior to those around us, or inadequate if we don't possess them?
Above all, the iPhone phenomenon speaks of the need to be continually occupied with texts, tweets and whatever. The obsession with texting and these other phenomena is indicative of the general noise we need to generate to keep ourselves occupied. One of those things which calls to mind Pascal: the measure of true human being is the ability to sit alone in silence in a room. Were we to do that, in our fallen state we would have no choice but to face our own mortality, the ultimate hopeless futility of our existence without God.
Have a nice day."
"There are many things about the Christian life that are a mystery to me. One of the things that is a mystery and that chaffs my spirit is when a Christian begins to get something and then goes militant against his former ilk. You know what I mean; they begin to understand something theologically profound and impacting and then they are ready to shred anyone of their former friends because they do not get it. Often times the refrain, “I can’t believe they don’t get this. Are they blind?!”
A friend of mine has likened this to the ex-chain smoker who now can’t stand people who smoke. The guy used to suck down cigs like slurpies but now he is free from that vice and everyone else is suddenly an idiot.
This happens a lot with Calvinists."
You can read the entire post here.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
“Let us stand still, and admire and wonder at the love of Jesus Christ to poor sinners; that Christ should rather die for us, than for the angels. They were creatures of a more noble extract, and in all probability might have brought greater revenues of glory to God: yet that Christ should pass by those golden vessels, and make us vessels of glory, Oh, what amazing and astonishing love is this! This is the envy of devils, and the admiration of angels and saints.”Thomas Brooks
Monday, April 19, 2010
The answer to all these questions is found at the cross of Calvary, in Jesus’ substitutionary death for his people. A righteous and holy God can justify the ungodly because in Jesus’ death, mercy and justice were perfectly reconciled. The curse was rightly executed, and we were mercifully saved.”
Greg Gilbert, What is the Gospel? (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2010), 69.
HT Of First Importance
"I have not always been a Calvinist. As a matter of fact, I was raised in the context of a liberal Methodist church, so long before I ever became a Christian, my mind was poisoned with a blend of liberalism and Wesleyan theology. And after I became a Christian, it was several years before I finally came to the point where I could affirm the biblical doctrine of election without trying to explain away clear statements of Scripture like Ephesians 1:4 (which says that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world). Or Romans 9:15-16, where God says, "'I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.' So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy."
I resisted those ideas for years. I knew the word election is biblical, but I had a friend who explained it this way: "God voted for you the devil voted against you. You cast the deciding vote.
That made perfect sense to me."
You can read the rest of Phil's article here.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
HT Dane Ortlund
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Free messages by R.C.Sproul here.
"It's been a good month or two for books. In addition to Kevin DeYoung's great little devotional commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, The Good News We Almost Forgot (Moody), there is also J.I. Packer and Gary A. Parrett's learned and provocative argument for putting catchesis back at the heart of the church, Grounded in the Gospel (Baker). Taken together, these books are delightful, encouraging, and, for those involved in church leadership, challenging, calling us to revisit old paths in new ways, avoiding both the romantic antiquarianism of so much Reformed church life, and the consumerist eclecticism of the ad hoc approach to the past found in emergent quarters."
You can find the rest of his book suggestions here.
- The shortness of life
- The certainty of death
- The length of eternity
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Answer: The outward and ordinary means by which Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are his ordinances, especially the Word, Baptism, the Lord's Supper and Prayer; all of which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.
Scripture: Romans 10:17; James 1:18; 1 Corinthians 3:5; Acts 14:1; 2:41, 42.
Question 96: How is the Word made effective for salvation?
Answer: The Spirit of God makes the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation.
Scripture: Psalm 19:7; 119:11, 18; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Peter 2:1, 2; Romans 1:16.
Question 97: How is the Word to be read and heard that it may become effective for salvation?
Answer: That the Word may become effective for salvation we must attend to it with diligence, preparation and prayer, receive it in faith and love, lay it up in our hearts and practice it in our lives.
Scripture: Proverbs 8:34; 1 Peter 2:1, 2; 1 Timothy 4:13; Hebrews 2:1, 3; 4:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:10; Psalm 119:11; James 1:21, 25.
Question 98: How do Baptism and the Lord's Supper become effective means of salvation?
Answer: Baptism and the Lord's Supper become effective means of salvation, not from any virtue in them or in him that administers them, but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in those who by faith receive them.
Scripture: 1 Peter 3:21; 1 Corinthians 3:6, 7; 12:13.
Question 99: How do Baptism and the Lord's Supper differ from the other ordinances of God?
Answer: Baptism and the Lord's Supper differ from the other ordinances of God in that they were specially instituted by Christ to represent and apply to believers the benefits of the new covenant by visible and outward signs.
Scripture: Acts 22:16; Matthew 26:26-28; 28:19; Romans 6:4.
The Baptist Catechism
Monday, April 12, 2010
"I was weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when I heard the voice of children from a neighboring house chanting, “Take up and read; take up and read.” I could not remember ever having heard the like, so checking the torrent of my tears, I arose, interpreting it to be no other than a command from God to open the book and read the first chapter I should find. Eagerly then I returned to the place where I had laid the volume of the apostle. I seized, opened, and in silence read that section on which my eyes first fell: “Not in revelry and drunkenness, not in licentiousness and lewdness, not is strife and envy; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” No further would I read, nor did I need to. For instantly at the end of this sentence, it seemed as if a light of serenity infused into my heart and all the darkness of doubt vanished away."
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Witherington, The Gospel of Mark, p. 409
Saturday, April 10, 2010
* Human beings have absolutely no will whatsoever
* Individuals are not responsible for their own decisions and actions
* Justification occurs in eternity, not in time
* God does not command all people to repent of sin
* Not everyone is required to believe upon Christ Jesus for salvation
* God creates unbelief in the hearts of the non-elect
* Assurance of election must be sought prior to repentance and faith
* Election is evident simply by a profession of faith, regardless of sanctification(antinomianism)
* Saving faith is equivalent to believing predestination (only “Calvinists” are Christians)
* Limited atonement must be believed in order to hear the gospel and be saved
* Evangelism is unnecessary, or even wrong
* God has no love whatsoever for humanity in His providence (common grace)
When one or more of these tenets is held, hyper-Calvinism may very well have taken root. If you’ve found these beliefs developing in your life, my prayer is that they may be weeded out by the grace of God.
Dr. James Galyon
HT Daniel's Place
Friday, April 09, 2010
Thursday, April 08, 2010
HT Buzzard Blog
"I have learned…that anxiety is a condition of the heart that gives rise to many other sinful states of mind. Think for a moment how many different sinful actions and attitudes come from anxiety. Anxiety about finances can give rise to coveting and greed and hoarding and stealing. Anxiety about succeeding at some task can make you irritable and abrupt and surly. Anxiety about relationships can make you withdrawn and different and uncaring about other people. Anxiety about how someone will respond to you can make you cover over the truth and lie about things. So if anxiety could be conquered, a mortal blow would be struck to many other sins."
John Piper, Battling Unbelief, p. 24
What was wrong with the Pharisee?
There was a lot right with him. He really didn’t do those bad things. He really did those good things. And he gave glory to God for it all: “God, I thank you . . . .”
So, what was wrong with him? Just this. He sincerely believed he was “not like other men.”
Thank God I’m not like that Pharisee!
HT Christ Is Deeper Still
If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, ‘O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?’ it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, food, and all such things. And we are comforted in tribulation, joyful in sorrow, glorying under abuse, abounding in poverty, warmed in our nakedness, patient amongst evils, living in death.
This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.”
John Calvin, (preface for Pierre Robert Olivétan’s 1534 French translation of the New Testament.)
HT Of First Importance
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
"When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this… One week-night, ... the thought struck me, "How did you come to be a Christian?" I sought the Lord. "But how did you come to seek the Lord?" The truth flashed across my mind in a moment – I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, "I ascribe my change wholly to God."
Sooner or later in life, that thing which we thought would never happen - could never happen - happens. We think, "how can life go on after that?" And yet, life does go on. We emerge on the other side, and find ourselves still intact. Life everywhere is life. Our head gets chopped off, so to speak, but our heart remains. We are turned inside out, but survive. No matter what you are going through, your life is not over until you are dead. No matter how bad it is, there is still hope - before God - for redemption, for change, for light, for breakthrough. Put your hope in God while you wait in the darkness."
HT Gavin Ortlund
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Monday, April 05, 2010
"Over 4.5 billion who are without Christ are right now heading to an eternity in hell. That is a vast spiritual need. Add to that a vast physical need. 26,000 children will die today because of preventable disease. God has chosen to determine the measure and integrity of faith by our response to the poor. If this book is true, then we do not have time to play games with our lives. We do not have time to play games in the church. I want to call us this morning to forsake hopes, plans, dreams, possessions, and ideas of a nice, comfortable, safe middle-class American life. I want to call you to forsake it all in radical abandonment for Jesus Christ."
HT Barry Wallace
So what should you do when you hear “bad reports” about a person or church or ministry? We want to offer a few thoughts on how to remain constructive. To paraphrase Ephesians 4:29, “Let no unwholesome words come out of your computer, but only what is constructive, in order to meet the need of the moment, that what you communicate will give grace to everyone who ever reads it.” That Greek word translated “unwholesome” is sapros. It means something that is inedible, either devoid of nutritional value or rotten and even poisonous. It applies to thorny briars or to fish or fruit that’s gone bad. At best, it’s of no benefit to anyone. At worst, it’s sickening and destructive. Consider three things in how to stay constructive.
What Does James Say about Passing Along Bad Reports?
Humble yourselves before the Lord.
Brothers, don’t slander or attack one another.
The verb “slander” simply means to “speak against” (Gk. kata-lalein). It is not necessarily a false report, just an “against-report.” The intent is to belittle another. To pour out contempt. To mock. To hurt. To harm. To destroy. To rejoice in purported evil. This can’t mean simple disagreement with ideas—that would mean that we could never have a debate over a point. This isn’t respectful disagreement with ideas. James warns against attacking a person’s motives and character, so that the listeners’ respect and love for the person is undermined. “As the north wind brings rain, so slander brings angry looks” (Prov. 25:23). Everybody gets upset at somebody else: slanderer, slanderee, slander-hearer.
The link of slander to pride in James 4:10 shows that slander is not the humble evaluation of error or fault, which we must constantly be doing. Rather, in slander the speaker speaks as if he never would do the same thing himself. It acts self-righteous and superior toward one’s obviously idiotic inferiors. Non-slanderous evaluation is fair-minded, constructive, gentle, guarded, and always demonstrates that speakers sense how much they share the same frailty, humanity, and sinful nature with the one being criticized. It shows a profound awareness of your own sin. It is never “against-speaking.”
James 5:9 adds a nuance: “Don’t grumble against one another.” Literally, it means don’t moan and groan and roll your eyes. This refers to a kind of against-speaking that is not as specific as a focused slander or attack. It hints at others flaws, not only with words, but by body language and tone. In print, such attitudes are communicated by innuendo, guilt by association, sneering, pejorative vocabulary. In person, it means shaking your head, rolling your eyes, and re-enforcing the erosion of love and respect for someone else. For example, “You know how they do things around here. Yadda, yadda. What do you expect?” Such a “groan” accomplishes the same thing as outright slander. It brings “angry looks” to all concerned. Passing on negative stuff always undermines love and respect. It’s never nourishing, never constructive, never timely, never grace-giving.
What Does the Book of Proverbs Say about Receiving Bad Reports?
He who covers over an offense promotes love,
but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
The first thing to do when hearing or seeing something negative is to seek to “cover” the offense rather than speak about it to others. That is, rather than let a bad report “pass in” to your heart as truth, and then get “passed along” to others, you should seek to keep the matter from destroying your love and regard for a person. How?
Start by remembering your own sinfulness. “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord” (Prov. 16:2). To know this automatically keeps you from being too sure of your position and of speaking too strongly against people that you hear about or people on the other side of a conflict. You intuitively realize that you may not be seeing things right. Your motives are never as pure as you think they are. To know this acts to keep you from being too sure of the facts, too sure of your position, and of speaking too quickly and too negatively about other people. Knowing your own sinfulness helps you not make snap judgments that take what you hear too seriously.
When you remember your sinfulness, remember God’s mercies. “Love covers all offenses” (Prov. 10:12). The God who is love has covered all your offenses. He knows everything about you (and the whole story about that other person). He has chosen to forgive you, and life-saving mercy cost Jesus his life. He could write you up with a 100% True Bad Report, but he has chosen to bury your sins in the depths of the ocean. That makes the life and death difference. If your sins are not buried in the ocean of his mercy, then you will be justly exposed and will justly perish. But when you’ve known mercy, then even when you hear report of grievous evil, an instinct toward mercy should arise within you. To savor the tasty morsels of gossip and bad reports is very different from grieving, caring, and wishing nothing less than the mercies of Christ upon all involved. And most bad reports are much more trivial. They are the stuff of busybodies and gossips going “tut-tut-tut.”
Then remember that there is always another side. “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him” (Prov. 18:17). You never have all the facts. And you never have all the facts you need all at once. You are never in a position to see the whole picture, and therefore when you hear the first report, you should assume you have far too little information to draw an immediate conclusion. What you’ve heard from someone else is only “hear-say” evidence. It has no standing or validity unless it is confirmed in other ways.
So when you hear a negative report about another, you must keep it from passing into your heart as though it were true. If you pass judgment based on hear-say, you are a fool. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out the facts. Go to the person. Hear other witnesses. If you’re far away from the scene, wait for more of the story to come out. Suspend judgment. Don’t get panicked or stampeded by mob-psychology and rumors. Be content not to know many things. You don’t need to have an opinion about everything and everyone.
Third, what should you do if you are close enough to the situation to be involved AND you think the injustice or matter is too great or grievous for you to ignore? For starters, notice that you only really need to know something if it touches your sphere of life and relationships. In that case, you should do what will help you to express God’s call upon you to speak Ephesians 4:29 words of wise love.
In Derek Kidner’s commentary on Prov. 25:7–10, he writes that when you think someone has done wrong you should remember, “One seldom knows the full facts (v.8) and one’s motives in spreading a story are seldom as pure as one pretends (v.10). To run to the law or to the neighbors is usually to run away from the duty of personal relationship.” See Christ’s clinching comment in Matthew 18:15: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” In short, if you feel the problem is too great and you can’t keep it from destroying your regard for the person, you must go personally before you go to anyone else.
When Should You Go?
Galatians 6:1 says we are to go when a person is caught in a trespass. That means there should be some kind of “pattern” or the unmistakeable exposure of a wrong. Don’t go the first time you hear a bad report about someone doing wrong. As we said above, there’s another side to most stories, and our motives are never totally pure when we get indignant. Go if the person seems caught—that is, trapped or stuck in a habit pattern of wrong behavior or falsehood.
How Should You Go?
Galatians 6:1 says we are to restore gently and in humility, bearing all the fruit of the Spirit. Beware of your own tendencies to be tempted—perhaps to the same sin, perhaps to reactive sins of self-righteousness or judgmentalism, perhaps to avoidance sins of cover-up and pretending. Galatians 6:2 goes on to say that we actually fulfill the law of Christ by bearing each other’s burdens. We become nothing less than lesser redeemers in the pattern of our Great Redeemer. Jesus in Matthew 18:15ff says we should also go persistently, and not give up in the process. Patience is one fruit of the Spirit because problems don’t always clear up quickly. There is a progression in efforts to get to the bottom of a bad report, to confirm the facts, and to work at bringing restoration.
Who Should Go?
Galatians 6 says you—plural—who are spiritual should go to the straying one. That both defines how you should go and it calls for multiple people to get involved. Similarly Matthew 18:15ff says to bring in other people if matters don’t resolve one to one. The right kind of checking out a bad report is always done in person and often will be done by involving multiple wise persons.
Why Should You Go?
In both Galatians 6 and Matthew 18 the goal is to restore the person and to re-establish sin-broken relationships. You are working to restore people both to God and to others.
In summary, from the Old Testament to the New Testament, the principle is this. If you hear bad reports about other Christians you must either cover it with love or go to them personally before speaking of it to any others.
* The first thing to do is to simply suspend judgment. Don’t pass on bad reports.
* The second thing to do is “cover” it in love, reminding yourself that you don’t know all about the heart of the person who may have done evil—and you know your own frailty. Don’t allow bad reports to pass into your own heart.
* The final thing to do is go and speak to them personally.
What you should never do is rush to judgment, or withdraw from loving another, or pass on the negative report to others. This is challenge enough when you’re dealing with the local grapevine or slow-moving postal service. In a world of instant world-wide communication of information it’s an even bigger challenge, because you can do bigger damage more quickly. Whether the bad report offers true information, or partial information, or disinformation, or false information—it is even more important that you exercise great discretion, and that you take pains to maximize boots-on-the-ground interpersonal relationships.
by Tim Keller & David Powlison
HT Justin Taylor
(Packer, intro to Luther's The Bondage of the Will).
Sunday, April 04, 2010
1"When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" 4And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back— it was very large. 5And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6And he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you." 8And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
9Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
Jesus Appears to Two Disciples
12 After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
The Great Commission
14Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover." 19So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs."
Friday, April 02, 2010
You can listen to Michael Horton interview Marilynne Robinson here.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
HT Exiled Preacher